My Special Friend, Grace Bilbrey




February 14th is a day most everyone associates with romance, candy, cards, flowers and love. But it also happens to be the birthday of someone I think is a very special person. And I think there couldnít have been a more perfect day for her to have come into this world 100+ years ago. Her name is Grace, and to me she is a great example of a happy, caring, sweet and kind person. I think she is perfectly suited to have been born on Valentineís Day. My first memory of her goes way back to a home demonstration club meeting at the home of a lady everyone called "Geebie". My mother was a member of this particular home dem club, and on this occasion she took me along to this all day meeting that included a covered dish lunch. Geebie was the hostess and Grace was one of the ladies who attended that day. Although I was only nine or ten years old at the time, Grace made me feel that I was just as grown-up as any of the ladies attending that day. The craft project for the meeting was a hand painted wooden bowl. I still have the one I made that day.

In the neighborhood where I grew up, all day quilting parties were held. Grace had a sister-in-law that lived in my neighborhood, and I can remember how the quilt was hung on racks from the ceiling, and all the ladies of the neighborhood, and other friends and relatives of the hostess came in for the day to help do the quilting. Grace was well known for the beautiful work she did on quilts. She was always on the list of those to invite to these events. I can remember her being at my Grandmotherís house when she was the hostess for a quilting party.

Time passed, and I didnít have a lot of contact with Grace until another home dem club meeting brought us together again. This time it was out in the country where I moved to after I got married. Grace had a cousin, Virgie, who was a neighbor of our in the country, and it was at Virgieís house for a home dem meeting that out paths crossed again. Although this home dem club was made up mostly of ladies who lived in that area and Grace lived in town, she became a member. She would usually come out to Virgieís home and spend a night or two with her so she could attend the meeting and do some visiting in the country at the same time. I have some wonderful memories of the friendship I formed with her and Virgie, along with other members of that group. Joan, Anna Lee, Lois, Frances, Elise, Lerion and my Aunt Christine (another townee that came to the meetings) could be counted on to attend most every month.

We went on several trips as a group, and every time we did this, Grace always, without fail, brought along a cookie tin filled to the brim with homemade goodies she had prepared herself just in case someone got hungry before we arrived at our destination. A peek inside the tin would reveal ham and biscuits, homemade cookies or candy, and fried apple pies ... boy, were they good!

Singing was never enjoyed by anyone more than Grace. Anytime we had a group trip somewhere, Grace always wanted us to sing while on the road. And we did too. Old gospel songs were her favorites.

I remember quite clearly Graceís home. Although she hasnít lived there for several years now, the details remain in my mind. It was a small, white, two bedroom house with a neat little yard filled with flowers. A visit to her home couldnít be made without leaving there with a cutting from a flower she had, or her dividing some plant she insisted on sharing. Sometimes the gift would be something she had crocheted. Nothing was ever out of place in her home. Sparkling clean is the only way to describe it. Her handwork, especially crochet work, could be seen throughout the house. Beautiful quilts all done by Graceís hands, were sometimes treasured gifts to family and friends. She made crocheted snowflakes for Christmas ornaments. I have a box of them tucked away she made for me several years ago.

Grace has always been a person who cared very much about her personal appearance. Her hair was always neatly fixed. Her clothes were always stylish, and she had that neat as a pin look at all times.

Grace had a sister named Eunice. It was an absolute riot when those two got together. Lucy and Ethel would have had some real competition with Grace and Eunice. Laughter was the main ingredient of that sisterhood. Grace loved to tell a story about Eunice and her husband on an escalator in a large department store and a fall that Eunice took while trying to get off the escalator. It was one of the funniest stories Iíve ever heard, and only Grace could tell it, so I wonít even attempt that. But believe me, it was hilarious!

I think one of the things I treasure most from my friendship with Grace is the fact that her life was never touched by so many things that are on our doorsteps today. Although she is now over 100 years old, a remarkable feat in itself, I seriously doubt that Grace even knows someone who has a drug abuse problem. Thatís just one example of how her life has been blessed. The ugly, terrible problems that exist in lots of lives all around us have never touched hers, and Iím so glad itís that way. Grace deserves the very best life has to offer. She has certainly added to my life through our friendship, and Iíll always treasure the memories I have of the good times weíve shared together. Thank you, Grace, for it all. And have a very happy birthday this February 14th. You are a very special person to me.